DESPITE AN INTERNATIONAL BAN IN 1989, THE ILLEGAL TRADE IN ELEPHANT IVORY CONTINUES. CAN ANYTHING BE DONE TO PREVENT IT?

ABSTRACT

Trade in ivory has been occurring for centuries, but only recently have we noticed that the population of elephants is at an all-time low, largely due to this illicit trade. As a high-value commodity, ivory is at the forefront of wildlife crime and, in monetary terms, illegal wildlife trade is the third largest crime behind drugs and human trafficking. Concern regarding the slaughter of elephants is mounting. In 1975 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was established in an attempt to protect endangered species, such as the elephant, but the trade in ivory persists.

This article addresses the effectiveness of CITES on the illegal ivory trade. It seeks to examine the limitations of CITES’ regulations and policies through critical evaluation and analysis. It argues that CITES is a ‘mere’ tool to protect the elephants and a tool is only as effective as its users. It is we, as citizens, as nations and as the world, who must use this tool to enforce its regulations, decisions and policies to protect the elephant and prevent its imminent extinction.

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